Monday, July 21, 2014

Coggle Yourself

That's right, Brownbaggers.  I said it.  Coggle yourself.  Coggle is my new fascination.  I love to introduce new technologies into my classroom that allow my students to ease themselves into the writing process.  Technologies that help them to create rather then add one more step to the process.  

Coggle is a FREE mind-streaming software that encourages users to freely associate ideas.  If you've never used Coggle before, check out this tutorial down below!

As a writing teacher, I have found Coggle to be useful in a number of ways.
  1. Organization > Students are forced to use a branching mechanism to identify different ideas having to do with their main topic or organization.  
  2. Relationships > Students must view their ideas in relationship to one another.  A typical outline uses a Roman Numeral system.  With Coggle, the mind-streaming software uses a Parent > Child > Sister relationship. Not only do students see the differing level of specificity between Parent and Child, they must also recognize the relationship between the sister levels making them unified and coherent.

So how did I use it in my classroom?  I used it for planning an entire paper. In fact, I didn't even make them write the paper.  

I only graded their "Essay Map".

There is nothing anywhere that tells us students HAVE to fully write out each and every essay.  Pre-writing stages are just as, if not more, important than the drafting stages.  Even better, though Coggle seems to be only for pre-writing, most of my students used it for drafting.  Where they started with writing individual words, they later returned and replaced with sentences, examples, and transitional expressions.  Further they revised throughout the entire Coggle process.  They essentially went through the entire writing process without ever writing a traditional essay.  It took them a little over an hour to develop the Coggles you see inn these images.

In and of itself, Coggle is an effective tool to employ in the writing classroom. The uses are limitless.  We should spend more time on the pre-writing stages of the writing as they produce more meaningful and effective essays. Perhaps we should even forgo writing entire essays for specific assignments. After all, Common Core would suggest that we focus more on process rather than product.  

    • Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1-3 above.)
    • Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1-3 up to and including grades 9-10 here.)
    • Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology's capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.
Based on the CCSS listed above, it's important to spend time focusing on the process of idea development and organization.  Coggle is one of many useful tools to implement in your classroom to help you do that.  Try it out!  Let me know how it goes by commenting below with your experiences - the positives and the negatives.